Paris, 1925. Over the course of a single evening, the Mississippi-born dancer Josephine Baker becomes the darling of the Roaring Twenties. Some audience members in the Theatre des Champs-Elysees are scandalised by the African American’s performance in La Revue Negre, but the city’s discerning cultural figures – among them Picasso and Cocteau – are enchanted by her exotic, bold and uninhibited style.
When her adopted country grants her citizenship in 1939, Josephine sees her fame as a means of helping the French resistance. She takes advantage of her globe-trotting lifestyle to pass on messages and to gather information. Years later, she is awarded the Legion d’honneur by Charles de Gaulle.
In the 1950s, installed in a palatial 15th century chateau, Josephine adopts 12 children from different ethnic backgrounds. Her “Rainbow Tribe”, as she often called them, was a living, breathing symbol of a happy and harmonious multicultural society.
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In Josephine Baker, Catel and Bocquet paint a glorious portrait of a spirited, principled and thoroughly modern woman, capturing the heady glamour of 1920s Paris in beautifully expressive detail.
496 pages, Black and white
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